World Cup 2019: How ICC made a humongous blunder by having no reserve days
Memes filled the cyberspace regarding the unusually wet World Cup on Tuesday as the match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh was washed out without a ball being bowled. Some suggested that Sri Lanka had won the toss and chosen to swim while others cheekily opined that the World Cup 2019 was being played underwater.
By Thursday, with three of the previous four matches wiped out by the weather gods without any action, humor has justifiably metamorphosed into anger.
On Thursday, a proverbial battle royale was supposed to take place in Nottingham between the only two unbeaten teams in the tournament, India and New Zealand. Cricket was supposed to take center stage, fans were supposed to be witness to another great spectacle. Instead, all we got were grey skies, spells of rain and gloomy umpires walking about inspecting a partially-covered ground.
To be honest, a World Cup comes along once every four years and you don't want most of your games to be washed out, with points divided between two equally frustrated sides. However, it seems the ICC forgot this basic logic while organizing the quadrennial showpiece.
No provision of reserve days for the entirety of the protracted league phase is a bizarre idea for a tournament taking place in England, where you can get all kinds of weather throughout the day and perennially fickle weather is the norm.
ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson said it would have been insanely complex to have reserve days for all matches. “It would impact pitch preparation, team recovery and travel days, accommodation and venue availability, tournament staffing, volunteer and match officials’ availability, broadcast logistics and very importantly the spectators who in some instances have traveled hours to be at the game," he said.
However, even with that catalog of complexities, the ICC should have been competent enough to arrange for reserve days considering the exalted nature of the tournament, knowing that many of those reserve days would not be required in the end.
The weekend match-days are already hosting two matches each, one beginning three hours after the start of the first. A reserve-day match could have followed a similar pattern. That way, a lot more cricket could have been played.
One might argue that even the reserve days could have been rained out. But by keeping that provision you are giving the teams the best possible chance to play a game, even if it's over two days - as happened in the intriguing India-England clash at the '99 World Cup which India won over two days.
Even while granting that this June's heavy rains are uncharacteristic, Richardson's catalog seems a bunch of excuses in hindsight. They needed to be ready for these kinds of adverse situations knowing how weather impacts a cricket match.
With no reserve days and so many matches washed out already, it is proving to be a veritable disaster of a World Cup. That is a real shame, because when there has been action in the field, it has generally been top notch.
It's not just the fans who are facing frustration and heartbreak due to an unusually wet June in the UK. None of the teams will be happy getting a point from these rained-off games.
For many like the West Indies, it could potentially ruin their chances of making it to the last four with just 10 teams in the fray. The ICC, clearly, failed to consider the full repercussions of rained-off matches.
They are also facing huge financial losses themselves, with all tickets having to be refunded and broadcasters being understandably livid with the loss of action.
There could be more heartbreak in store for everybody concerned as the weather forecast for Manchester on Sunday the 16th, the day of the marquee clash between eternal rivals India and Pakistan, is also gloomy, with showers predicted. One can only hope that the weathermen are proven wrong, otherwise this cup of woes will overflow for certain.
Things can only get worse as we head into July, when it traditionally rains a lot more. The only good news is that the knockout games have reserve days. Hopefully, things will be sunnier at the business end of this intriguing World Cup.
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